Every culture has their own definition of family relationships. Most family relationships stem from the concept of marriage. Different types of marriages are accepted all around the world. Some marriages are based on civil aspects, others are based solely on religious aspects, and most are based on both. There are two main types of marriages throughout the world which are monogamy and polygamy.
Each type of marriage has been around for thousands of years and both the past and present show that there are both advantages and disadvantages of each marital practice. The most widespread form of marriage with the longest history is Monogamy. Monogamy is the form of marriage where one man marries one woman. Ancient Greeks, Ancient Romans, Jews, Christians, Indians, and tribes such as the Hopi and Iroquois have regarded monogamy as the most ideal form of marriage.
There are quite a few advantages in monogamous marriages. There is typically better understandin gand communication between the man and wife, more focus on the children leading to a more stable family most of the time and it is better economically suited for most people. Since there are only two spouses, monogamy has been shown to offer the highest form of love and affection and sex relations are more regulated.
Disadvantages of monogamy aren’t often mentioned since its practiced by the majority of people in the world but things can get complicated between the two spouses if abuse or adultery gets involved. Even so, both the woman and man can divorce freely if they wish. The form of polygamy is the second prominent concept practiced throughout the world. Polygamy is when both the man and woman have freedom to have additional mates.
The historical Montagnais Tribe believed in pure polygamy. Before the French took them over and converted them to European beliefs, both woman and men were allowed to have multiple partners. They were a very mature culture where jealousy did not exist and instead, they channeled their energy into loving every single person within the tribe and each child was considered everyones’. Woman were actually seen as above the men in a number of ways. Leacock describes how the woman create a very complimentary relationship between spouses:
The Montagnais woman is far from being a drudge. Instead she is a respected member of the tribe whose worth is well appreciated and whose advice and counsel is listened to and, more often than not, accepted and acted upon by her husband. (39)
Leacock then goes on to explain how each gender has “special labors” that allow them to create equilibrium within their culture and relationships. Polygamy does have two forms as well. There is polygyny which is when one husband has several wives and polyandry where one wife has several husbands.
In each situation, the single gender individual is seen as the superior one and the multi plespouses are below them. Although not everyone believes in polygamous practices, Joseph mentions many advantages and disadvantages that come along with sharing her husband with 8 other woman. She states, ” It enables woman, who live in a society full of obstacles, to fully meet their career, mothering and marriage obligations; it provides a whole solution.” On the other side she says, “there is a longing of intimacy and comfort that only he can provide” (A31).
This proves that in any practice of polygamy there are advantages as in having more freedom, but sometimes all of the emotional, mental, sensual, etc. needs may not be met.
My ideal relationship is probably very similar to other girls of my age. All I’ve ever wanted is one faithful monogamous relationship in my lifetime. Everyone has a soul mate and hopefully one day I will find mine and we can develop not only a relationship, but also a friendship built on true love, trust and honesty. From that, we can raise children in a loving, supportive, and healthy although somewhat discipline environment while loving my spouse unconditionally and getting the same in return.
An equalitarian relationship would be ideal where both my husband and I pursue careers and have equal say on housework and finances.
Relationships have truly evolved over time. Christian beliefs have always suppressed woman through marriage. We are shying away from ideas such as, “woman should learn in quietness and full submission. [God] does not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (Timothy 2.11). Thankfully now in modern times, woman now have much more of a say in marriage and our society is slowly accepting equalitarian type marriages. Monogamy and polygamy both offer strengths and weaknesses within ones lifestyle, but one thing is for sure; no relationship
is ever perfect.